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Full text of "The preacher's opportunity in the twentieth century : an address"

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Compliments of 

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The 

Preacher's Opportunity 

in the 

Twentieth Century 



An Address 

By Baylus Cade 

Shelby, N. C. 



Delivered before the Pastors' Conference of the 
Baptist State Convention, at Wadesboro, N. C, 
December 7, 1909. 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archivQ,org/details/preachersopportu1909cade 



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The Preacher's Opportunity in the 
Twentieth Century. 



Mr. President and Brethren: — It has pleased 
your Committee upon Programme to appoint me 
to discuss before you at this time, the Preacher's 
Opportunity in the Twentieth Century. The sub- 
ject is a large one. And, were I competent to 
discuss it exhaustively, the time, which I may 
properly give to it, is all too short to permit an 
adequate treatment upon this occasion. The most 
that I can hope to do, therefore, is to make some 
suggestion to your larger intelligence, which may 
be somewhat useful to you in your future studies 
upon this subject; and this I will now do. 

I. — Summary of the Century's Distinctions. 

In order that the Preacher's Opportunity in the 
Twentieth Century may emerge into luminous view 
in this discussion, it is necessary that we should 
take a rapid survey of some of the things which 
distinguish the Twentieth Century: 

(1) The present century is distinguished by its 
enormous Industrial Activity. 

And this industrial activity promises rewards to 
the dominant classes more extravagant than any, 
that were ever dreamed of in times of the wildest 
fable; whilst it entails upon the underling classes 
hardships, in comparison wherewith, the woes of 
the Baron's retainers in the Middle Age may look 
like emancipation. 

(2) The present century is marked as distinctly 
the Age of Machinery. 

UBRARY 



2 

The presence of machinery in industrial life 
makes it impossible, that persons of small means 
should be proprietors; and it robs the craftsman of 
the skill of his hand, and degrades him to the 
level of a mere helper, whose only function it is, 
to feed a machine. 

(3) The present century is known as the Age of 
the Widest Artificial Distribution of Commodities. 

And this distribution puts both the producer and 
consumer into the power of conscienceless rapac- 
ity; and, at the same time, breeds swarms of lazy 
middlemen, who suck the marrow out of human 
thrift, and leave the naked bone to the gnawing of 
hungry children. 

(4) The present century is often spoken of as 
the time of the greatest Extension of the World's 
Commerce. 

And this commercialism is nothing else but the 
struggle of the strong against the weak; the ac- 
tivity of greed exploiting the poor; the onslaught 
of hideous utility against the domain of beauty; 
the ugly gilding of lucre upon the throne of art; 
the march of the cohorts of selfishness against the 
Golden Rule. 

(5) The present century is marked by Great 
Activity in Education. 

But the tendency, in higher education more par- 
ticularly, is away from the masses, and in the 
direction of the classes. The signs are multiply- 
ing, with disconcerting rapidity, that Plutus 
means to mould the youth-hood of the world to 
be the partisans of monopoly, by dominating the 
educational institutions, both sacred and secular. 

(6) The present century is distinguished by an 
Extent of Literary Spawning, that finds no paral- 
lel in the annals of time. 



3 



And some of this literary spume is worthless; 
much of it is distinctly immoral; more of it is one- 
sided and misleading; and all of it is soiled with 
the slime of unfaith. 

(7) The present century is noted for its Almost 
Universal Religious Unrest. 

And this religious unrest is begotten of a vari- 
ous parentage. It is, in part, due to the stupid, 
current religious belief, that Christianity is capa- 
ble of final statement; it is, in part, also due to 
the utterly irrational statements of some of the 
Christian beliefs; it arises, in part, from the false 
findings of philosophy; it is enormously encour- 
aged by an utterly blind and pig-headed scientific 
determination and method, that leaves the larger 
half of God's universe out of the fieli of its inves- 
tigations, and insists, that nothing is real, which 
cannot be measured by a haberdasher's tape, or 
weighed upon a chemist's scales. 

(8) The present century is eminently distin- 
guished by a Compromise — not, indeed, open and 
brave, but tacit and mean — betwixt Organized 
Christianity and the World. 

The unspoken terms of this compromise exact 
endowments from greed, and engage to silence the 
cries of conscience; they take over the pride and 
power of social place, and reciprocate the favors 
by stilling the clamors of morals; they win the ap- 
proval of wealth by gilding the form of denunci- 
ation with the tinsel of praise; they compound for 
largesses in money, by imposing the livery of 
shame, and enjoining perpetual silence. 

In the eight particulars now enumerated, the 
present century finds its chief distinctions; and 
each one of them is a cancerous growth, which, 



without excision, threatens the very life of right- 
eousness in the world. 

But you must not conclude from my enumera- 
tion of these evils of our century, that I write my 
name in the ignoble list of whining pessimists, 
who believe, that the whole scheme of things is 
going to the devil out of hand. Bad as the pres- 
ent century is, it is, far and away, the best cen- 
tury of them all — the very best of them all. It 
has more of intellect, more of morals, more of 
merciful intelligence, more wide-seeing eyes, more 
open hands, more unselfish lives, more of the 
Christ in its institutions and aims, than had any 
one of the centuries that have gone before it. 
But, good as it is, the evils I have mentioned are 
real — startlingly real — and they do need mend- 
ing. And it is the mending of the evils of the 
present century, that will furnish the chief wealth 
of opportunity to the preachers of our time. 

To a discussion of these opportunities I now 
turn my attention. 

II.— - The Moderately Endowed Preacher's Oppor- 
tunity in the Twentieth Century. 

The extent and quality of the preacher's 
opportunity in the Twentieth Century, or in any 
other century, for that matter, will be determined 
by the extent and quality of the preacher's endow- 
ment. What may be a large opportunity for one 
class of personal endowment, may be a very small 
opportunity, or no opportunity at all, for another 
class of endowment. The young David in the 
ministry may be no more effective in the armor 
of Saul, than was the stripling in the armor of 
the giant warrior in the olden time; and the giant 
Saul of the ministry may be utterly unable to win 



a victory for the Master with the stones of the 
brook and the childish sling. 

The opportunity to the preacher in the present 
century will be found to be strictly correlated 
with the personal endowment of the preacher 
himself; and diversities of gifts in the preachers 
of our century will stand right over opposite to 
diversities of opportunity therein. 

But it is a tremendously encouraging fact, 
which I now point out in the pregnant statement, 
that our century will be certain to offer more nu- 
merous opportunity to preachers of moderate abil- 
ity, than has ever been before offered to preach- 
ers of this class by any of the centuries that have 
gone into history. 

To most of you here present, this statement 
may seem to be rankest hersey. 

"Ah," says some one, "do we not hear it said, 
over and over again, that our wonderful century 
calls for preachers of large ability, as they were 
never called for in the times that are gone?" 

Yes; it must be said that preachers of over- 
topping ability are called for nowadays with an 
insistent repetition, that comes into the immediate 
neighborhood of blatantcy. But it must also be 
said, that they, who are doing the calling, do not 
know what is most needed in the minietry of to- 
day. They may know what they want in the 
preachers of our time; but they certainly do not 
know what is most needed in the preachers of 
our time. 

Some simple considerations will make my mean- 
ing clear. 

(1) It is certain, that great ability in any per- 
son isolates him from the common masses of men. 
To be intellectually head and shoulders above oth- 



er men, may afford a man a larger view of human 
things than the common masses of men can attain 
unto. And the intellectual elevation, that puts a 
man into possession of larger views, takes him 
up out of contact with the needs of those, who 
are beneath him; so that he finds, that his wider 
view has been gained by the narrowing of his 
sympathies; or, to put it more accurately, he finds, 
that the elevation of his viewpoint has involved 
the lessening of the number of his contact points 
with the masses of men. 

This being true, it follows, perforce, that the 
preachers of moderate endowment will gather the 
greater wealth of opportunity out of the present 
century; and that they may comfort themselves 
whilst they are gathering up this wealth of op- 
portunity, with the certain knowledge, that per- 
sonal greatness amongst preachers entails some 
disadvantages and limitations, whereunto they 
themselves are not at all subject. 

(2) It must be said now, and some one ought 
to have said it long ago, that the field of useful 
accomplishment is narrower by far, for the preach- 
ers of distinguished ability, than it is for their 
moderately endowed brethren. 

I am aware, that this statement wears the look 
of paradox. But it is the sober truth neverthe- 
less. There are many more places of usefulness 
for preachers of modest gifts, than there are for 
their more largely endowed brethren. Con- 
spicuous ability is relatively rare in any walk of 
life; just as places exactly suited to conspicuous 
ability are relatively rare in the world's activities. 

Many a pastor of country churches looks upon 
his more largely endowed brother in the pulpit of 
some great city church, and longs for what he 



thinks to be the wider field of his more fortunate 
brother. But he does not see, that the city pastor 
is hampered and limited by a thousand and one 
industrial hardships and vices, that do not touch, 
or limit, him at all. The majesty of a great 
building, and the trappings of fashionable wor- 
ship, catch his imagination, and lead him to envy 
his more highly placed brother, without revealing 
to him the one great fact, attested by all history, 
that "the country makes men; and the cities de- 
stroy them"; that he himself is placed at the 
point, where men and women grow into stalwart 
proportions; and the city pastor is placed at the 
exact point, where manly and womanly disinte- 
gration finds its dreadful maximum. 

(3) But one other consideration must be noted, 
which makes it certain, that the greater wealth 
of opportunity in the present century will come to 
preachers of moderate personal endowment; and 
that consideration lurks in the fact, that the civil- 
ization of our time is rapidly tending towards 
greater and greater complexity along the lines of 
its movements. 

It is a fact, whereunto there is no exception in 
history known to me, that the simpler a civiliza- 
tion may be, the wider the field it offers for the 
employment of commanding ability in men. It 
is this fact, and this fact alone, which gives an 
entirely clear explanation to that finding of his- 
tory, which declares the simpler ages to be the 
ages that are truly heroic. 

Not seldom do we hear the complaint in our 
day, that the world has no heroes now; and the 
absence of heroic men from the life of to-day is, 
by shallow persons, thought to be due to the fact, 
that no men of heroic ability are born in our time. 



The truth is, we have men in the life of to-day, 
who are as large of intellectual stature as were 
the heroic men of times long past. But they do 
not come out and shine, because they are eclipsed 
and bewildered by the senseless complexity of our 
civilization. 

A further effect of this complexity of our civil- 
ization upon opportunity in our century must be 
now noted. 

The increasing complexity of our civilization 
works not alone the obscuration of large ability in 
men; but it does enormously enlarge the number 
of persons, who are to be only hewers of wood 
and drawers of water in the world's work, both 
sacred and secular. And anything, which en- 
larges the numbers of persons, who are to be sim- 
ply subordinate in the world's activities, does 
enormously multiply the spheres for the employ- 
ment of preachers of moderate personal endow- 
ment. 

So, I take to myself great joy in pointing out 
to you, my brethren beloved, that our century will 
offer to the preachers of modest ability more 
numerous, and more inviting opportunity, than 
was ever offered to preachers of their class by any 
other century since Christianity began to be. The 
spheres of domination for these modestly gifted 
preachers may not, perchance, be so wide in the 
present century, as were those offered to men of 
their class in the ages of simpler society; but they 
will be greatly more numerous than ever before 
in the history of preaching. 

III. — Opportunity of Industrial Betterment. 

The Christianity of the present century, like 
unto that of several centuries past, exhibits a 



good deal of ingenuity in its avoidance of indus- 
trial questions and issues. It concerns itself 
mainly, if not wholly, in saving what it calls the 
souls of men, and allows the bodies of many of 
them to go to the poor-house. It points men 
away to the glories of the other world, and makes 
wide promises of golden pavements, and white 
robes, and harps and crowns, and everlasting 
song, in the sweet bye and bye; and it does al- 
most nothing at all at making conditions here in 
this present world, wherein the saved souls may 
find opportunity to rehearse for the joys of the 
great hereafter. 

Even a careless observer may see, that it costs 
Christians nothing in dollars and cents; it costs 
them nothing of personal pains, or of exacting 
stress of personal labor, to give over to underling 
men the whole splendid wealth of gold and joy 
in the future world. To give to men all there 
may be in the future world, costs nothing here 
but a little pumped-up enthusiasm, and some 
cubic feet of atmosphere. Religious miseduca- 
tion furnishes the enthusiasm, and the atmosphere 
is stolen from God. 

Now, the Christian Scriptures do distinctly 
teach, that Godliness is profitable unto all things, 
having promise of the life that now is, and of 
that which is to come. And Godliness has prom- 
ise of the life which is to come, only because the 
life that now is, is designed to create and mould 
manhood for effective and joyful citizenship in 
the future world. The question Christians should 
now ask is not, Shall this man be saved? But the 
real question for them to ask is this, Is this man 
worth saving? Have our Lord's people been see- 
ing to it, that this man shall be given a chance 



10 



to get out of this present life some manhood to 
qualify him for a large intake of the joys of the 
heavenly state? 

Believe me, my dear brethren, men do not go 
into the heavenly world to get their manhood, 
ready made, out of a stock of it, that God keeps 
on hand. They go there, if they go there at all, 
because they have already gotten some manhood 
out of conditions here, which the Christ enables 
Christians to create and conserve in our common 
life and activities. 

The present century offers a large wealth of 
opportunity to the preachers of Christianity there- 
in to bring about two results in the industrial 
world, which are imperatively demanded by the 
bests of common mercy, and without which, the 
Kingdom of God can never come in its fullness; 
and these I will now point out to you: 

(1) The Christian preachers of our great cen- 
tury have an opportunity to compel the thought 
and conscience of intelligent men to recognize 
the essential, original dignity of all honest hu- 
man toil. 

The shallow labor agitator demands, that la- 
borers shall be taken out of their places, and be 
made into what they, and the inane herd of 
dilettanti folk, call gentlemen. And the educat- 
ed, professional and leisure classes, when they 
think of laborers at all, think of them as obscure 
objects of pity, to whom they owe nothing more 
than the pale wish, that some means might be 
found to pull them up to the social level, where- 
upon they themselves live and move. 

This sort of treatment of laboring folk is not 
alone futile; it is infamous. If the laborers were 
all taken up to-day into the places, where they 



11 



might wear kid gloves and pilot cloth, Adam's 
children would all be dead within six months for 
want of bread. Doubtless, these educated, pro- 
fessional and leisure classes are admirable, de- 
sirable, necessary. But the laborers are equally 
admirable, desirable, necessary; and — much more 
honorable. 

I sat in my office some years ago ,and watched 
through the window, a library building grow up 
through its scaffolding, into its beautiful propor- 
tions; proportions eloquent in themselves, but 
infinitely more eloquent in the blessed utilities 
they set out in symbol. And, as I watched and 
admired, I said to myself, over and over again: 
"How many hundreds of well dressed fools will 
come here and chant the praises of the architect, 
who planned the building, without being capable 
of saying one word in praise of the men, who 
carried the bricks and mortar, hod by hod, from 
cellar up to battlement." The architect earned 
his praises. He gets his praises. The hod car- 
rier earned his praises, too. He does not get 
his praises. And that is the difference; where- 
upon God must look, and Frown. 

North Carolina may boast of the beneficences 
of her professional men; and then she may en- 
large upon her boasting of them, without imputa- 
tion of extravagance in her boasting. But I de- 
clare unto you, that the men, who made the 
sweet potato crop in North Carolina this present 
year, did more for human weal than all her pro- 
fessional men have done within a lustrum. 

The laboring classes do not want your money; 
they do not want your social place; they do not 
want your culture; they do not want your pity. 
They do want you to forget their obscure em- 



12 



placement; their coarse clothes; their rounding 
shoulders; their labor knotted hands, — in the 
joyful recollection, that they are men! — your 
peers in honor! — without whom, not you and God 
together, can unwind the million-threaded skein 
of human hope and destiny. 

Now, the Christ's preachers in this great cen- 
tury have an opportunity to get for these toilers 
the ages-long withholden recognition, wherewith- 
out the triumph song of God's Kingdom can 
never be sung over human struggle finished and 
past. 

(2) The preachers of the twentieth century 
will have ample opportunity to compel industrial 
leaders to do simple industrial justice to the 
world's workers; and the getting of this done 
will be as great an accomplishment for the bring- 
ing in the Righteousness of the Kingdom of God, 
as has ever been secured underneath the stars. 

To the doing of industrial justice, it has been 
objected from the beginning of history until now, 
that labor is dependent upon capital; and they 
must not be arrayed the one against the other; 
since their interests are identical. 

The only thing in the world that keeps this ob- 
jection from embodying a great truth is, that it 
is an enormous and most wicked lie. For since 
the time when two of Adam's children first went 
into copartnership for the doing of anything, until 
this present moment, one of the parties to an in- 
dustrial undertaking has not carried away more 
than he earned of the produce of their joint la- 
bor, without proclaiming to all men with sense 
enough to see it, and with goodness enough to 
admit it, that their interests are not at all iden- 
tical. 



13 



But this hoary objection to industrial re-adjust* 
ment is based upon an assumption, which is ut- 
terly, wickedly false; and that assumption is, 
that capital is something apart from labor. 

The simple truth is, that there is not such a 
thing now; that there never has been such a 
thing; that there never can be such a thing, — as 
capital apart from labor. Capital is nothing else 
but power created by labor, and stored up, either 
in kind, or in symbol, in the hands of him, who 
created it, or in the hands of one, who got it away 
from him, who created it, by some species of 
over-reaching. Apart from the natural materials, 
impartially sown here of God Himself, there is 
not a value on earth to-day, that is not the cre- 
ation of labor, either manual, or mental. How 
stupid it were, therefore, were it not so infernal- 
ly wicked, to talk of gathered up creations of la- 
bor as capital; and demand that it shall have 
special rewards. 

Capital is, forevermore, the creation of labor. 
How then can its interests be at all identical 
with those of labor? Are the interests of the 
creator no larger, and none other, than those of 
the creature? The one has feeling; the other is 
insensate. The one has wants; the other has no 
mentality. The one is invited by the future; 
the other sees no past nor future. The one has 
aspiration; the other is inert — dead. 

In the enforcement of this objection to the 
doing of industrial justice, it has been often said, 
that labor cannot get along without capital. 

If the meaning of this saying be, that labor 
cannot make captains of industry; cannot make 
luxury; cannot feed extravagance; cannot batten 
social parasites, — without capital, it may be ad- 



14 



tnitted; not otherwise. The very severest pro- 
nouncement, that has been made upon human 
intelligence, since the world began, gets all of 
its terrible force from the fact, that a large ma- 
jority of respectable persons in the world to-day, 
are able to accept this hoary falsehood as gospel 
truth. Labor may not, indeed, be able to make 
the conditions for the feeding of social parasites, 
already mentioned, without capital. But labor 
is the only thing in the world to-day — the only 
thing that ever has been in the world, industrial, 
or other — that can get along without capital. It 
has always gotten along; and, in addition to get- 
ting along, it has created all the dividends, that 
have ever been declared. There is not a single 
human creature revelling in the nasty trappings of 
luxury to-day who is not helping to use up in idle- 
ness and vice, the surpluses of values, that were 
created by labor, and by labor alone. 

It may perchance appear to the preachers of 
our century, when they think of industrial things, 
that there is nothing in them to mend. To those 
of them, who may thus think, there will, indeed, 
be nothing to mend. Not because there may be 
no mending needed; but because they themselves 
are not menders. It may perchance appear to 
other preachers of our century, that, whilst there 
may be much to mend, the mending is so difficult, 
as to be impossible. Not so, my dear brethren. 
The means of mending are at hand. And all 
that may be needed is, the creation of such a 
Christly grasp and sweep of conscience, as may 
compel the application of the means to the end. 

Industrial justice will have been done to all 
men — to both the owners of capital and the la- 
borers — when it shall have been made to come 



15 



to pass, that workers are the owners of their 
equitable shares of all the dividends, that may 
remain after capital shall have been paid its 
righteous interest, and labor shall have had its 
righteous wage. And this is just the same thing 
as saying, that Co-operation is the one specific 
remedy, which shall clear away all the industrial 
injustice of the ages. 

The preachers of this wonderful century have 
an opportunity to put so much of the Lord Jesus 
into the sentiment and thought of the world, as to 
compel this co-operation in all the industrial en- 
terprises of all future time. 

IV. — -Opportunity for Religious Betterment. 

(1) The present century holds out to the 
preachers of our religion opportunity to compel 
scientific persons to take into account in their 
investigations, that splendid larger half of God's 
universe, which they call the Spiritual Sphere, 
and which they wickedly wave aside, and treat 
as if it were wholly unreal. 

To a thoughtful person it must appear to be 
certain, that no one else but the arch enemy of 
both God and men, could ever have invented so 
deadly a thing, as is the distinction betwixt re- 
ligion and science. Unless there be a schism in 
the person of God himself, it must be true, that 
any scientific fact must have a religious value; 
and that any religious fact, whatsoever, must be 
a datum of science. The God of the stellar 
movements must be the God of religious aspira- 
tion, if there be not two Gods within one sphere. 
The force that holds the planets in their places 
must not be more certainly cosmic, than is the 
longing in human souls for the consciousness of 



16 



personal purging and purity. The universe is not 
two; it is one. The religion of the race is not 
an expedient; it is the necessary outcome of the 
very constitution of the universe. The move- 
ments of matter and the activities of the spirit in 
men are, alike, the Functioning of God in the 
whole order of things. 

The view I have now presented, is that of the 
Bible. The preachers of the present century 
have an opportunity to set it forth, such as none 
of the centuries agone ever offered to men. Let 
them lay hold upon the opportunity, and compel 
science to be religious, and religion to be scien- 
tific; compel the Scientist to worship, the Religion- 
ist to investigate and think; compel the world to 
know, that there is one Religion, one Science; 
and that God is not more Immanent in the one 
of them than He is in the other; since each of 
them is inclusive of the other; and both of them 
find explanation in Him, and properly employ 
themselves in bringing Him out fully into the 
consciousness of men. 

(2) To these preachers of the present century, 
large opportunity will be given to restate the find- 
ings of Christian theology in the terms of a larger 
and better intellectuality. 

Not all other hindrances in the world, taken 
together, have so retarded the onward march of 
the Christian religion, as has the stupid belief 
of a majority of its confessors, that it can be stat- 
ed exhaustively and finally. 

The Christian religion could be stated finally, 
and once for all, were it an institution. It could 
be stated exhaustively, and for all time, were it 
an expedient. It could be thought out, finished 
and sealed up, were it a dogma. It could be 



17 



made to take its last form in statement, were it 
concerned about a fixed quantity. But the Chris- 
tian religion is not an institution. It is not an 
expedient. It is infinitely more than a dogma. 
It is not concerned about a fixed quantity. The 
Christian religion is not any one of these; it is 
not all of these taken together. The Christian 
religion is Life! It makes institutions. It em- 
ploys expedients. It prescribes dogmas. It un- 
covers fixed quantities. It is not these; nor any 
of these; it is more than all these. It is — Life! 
And Life cannot be finally stated. Life cannot 
be put into formularies. Christianity is Jesus, 
our Lord, in the lives of men; is God, the Father 
Almighty, flowering out in the life of the uni- 
verse. Christianity is larger than history; larger 
than literature; larger than precept; larger than 
Bibles; larger than any statement of it by either 
men or angels. Jesus, our Lord, is more than 
the Incarnation; more than His earth-life; more 
than His earth-death; more than the atonement. 
Jesus, our Lord, can never be stated to men in 
any terms but those of a finished and beatified 
manhood; and a finished and beatified manhood 
the universe has seen not yet at all; and, possi- 
bly, shall not see, world without end! — world 
without end! 

But let me specify one or two particulars, 
wherein Christian truth needs restatement. 

(a) Christian Theology needs to be so restated 
as to eliminate, once and forever, the distinction 
betwixt the Natural and the Supernatural. This 
distinction was invented — it was not found — by 
a philosophy, distinguished for nothing else so 
much, as for its wonderful genius for stupid 
blundering. It was taken up, and has been used 



18 



by a science, as stupidly eminent for blundering, 
as was the philosophy wherefrom it borrowed. 
It. was adopted by Christian teachers, as wearing 
the ear-marks of certitude, in that it had the 
sanction of both science and philosophy. But 
there is nothing in the Bible, there is nothing in 
philosophy, there is nothing in any ascertained 
fact, or set of facts, in nature to ever suggest it 
to any one. It is an invention pure and simple. 
There is no Supernatural! 

Any rational use of the word Nature must in- 
clude within that term — must find within that 
term — the entire sum of existences. And any 
understanding of that term, which includes the 
whole sum of existences, must include God also; 
and there is nothing above God; there is nothing 
super-God. There is the supermaterial, the super- 
sensuous, the superhuman; but never the Super- 
natural. The movements of the universe, from 
the flashing of suns in the stellar spaces, to the 
falling of a hair from a human head, are nothing 
else but the activities of God. The regularities 
of the operations of the universe are nothing else 
but the habits of God; expressing himself for the 
enlargement and final beatification of the intelli- 
gences of His creative Beneficence. 

This, my dear brethren, is what your Bibles 
said about it long ago; and this is what your 
century enables you to say about it, for your own 
usefulness and peace, and for the bringing of the 
Kingdom of God into the life of the world within 
this generation. 

(b) Christianity needs to be so restated in our 
time, as to make it perfectly clear, that the Re- 
ligion of Jesus has to do with a growing, and not 
a fixed and finished humanity. The defenders of 



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Christianity, too often, confound the institution- 
al forms, which our religion has created, with 
the religion itself. That is to say, the institu- 
tional forms created by Christianity are tempor- 
ary; and must change in form, to meet the ever 
accelerating growth of redeemed manhood; whilst 
Jesus, our Lord, is the changeless life and ef- 
ficiency of all the forms, that have been, that are 
now, that are to be in the future. Had Jesus, 
our Lord, been an institution builder, He had been 
a charlatan, as all other institution builders have 
been and are. But He put His own life prin- 
ciples and potencies into the Kingdom of God, in 
the certainty, that His potencies therein would 
make and mould all institutional forms, which may 
ever be needed by a growing humanity. 

The preachers of our century will have an op- 
portunity to so state our religion as to make this 
to be clear. 

(3) The preachers of the present century have 
splendid opportunity to imbue the consciousness 
of this generation with the great truth, that Chris- 
tianity is either a self-evident fact and force in 
the life of the world; or else it is just nothing at 
all of value to men. 

It may startle many of you, my brethren, to be 
told that Christianity cannot be proven to be true. 

Understand me! Christianity may be seen to 
be true, may be found to be true, may be known 
to be true. Christianity has been seen to be true, 
has been known to be true. It has not been 
proven to be true. It cannot be proven to be true. 
It does not ask to be proven to be true. It does 
not need to be proven to be true. And all this, 
for the very best of all reasons, namely: It is a 
self-evident Fact in the life of the world; and no 



20 



more needs to be proven to be true and present in 
human things, than the limitless yearning of 
vegetal gestation needs to be proven to be true in 
the verdure and flowers of the blessed May Days 
of the fruitful years. 

What should you say of a professor of the 
mathematics, who should begin his course of in- 
struction in that science, with any sort of argu- 
ment to prove, that things equal to the same 
thing are equal to each other? That the whole 
of anything is greater than one of its parts? You 
would probably say to him: "See here, my learn- 
ed ninny, do not waste your time and mine trying 
to prove that to be true, which needs no proving — 
which is self-evident." 

"Ah," says some dear brother, "cannot I prove 
Christianity to be true by the Bible?" No! — my 
dear brother, you cannot prove Christianity to be 
true by the Bible; since it is exactly the Bible, 
that is the point of infidelic attack, and that needs 
to be proven to be true. You can prove the Bible 
to be true by Christianity; you cannot prove 
Christianity to be true by the Bible. 

"But," says another dear brother, "cannot I 
prove Christianity to be true by miracle?" 

No! — my dear brother, you cannot prove Chris- 
tianity to be true by miracle. You can prove 
miracle to be true by Christianity. 

I do not know that foot-sore traveler in Judea 
to be the Son of God, because he raised Lazarus 
from the dead. What I do know is, that Lazarus 
was raised from the dead, because that foot- 
sore Traveler in Judea is the Son of God. I do 
not know God and His Christ to be true, because 
I find the Bible in them. What I do know is, 
that the Bible is true because I find God and His 



21 



Christ in it. Christianity is larger and clearer in 
human consciousness, than any outward manifes- 
tation of it can be. You never can prove the 
larger by the lesser. Forevermore, we are shut 
up to the proving of the lesser by the larger. And 
this, for the reason, that the larger can never be 
all included within the lesser; but the lesser is 
all included within the larger. 

Not only, my dear brethren, must the method of 
religious proving be changed; but the things to 
be proven must be changed also. 

The idea, that Jesus, our Lord, can be verified 
to any human soul by historical records, however 
minute, extensive and venerable they may be, is 
absurd to the last extreme of absurdity. The no- 
tion, almost universally held by Christians in our 
time, that the Holy Spirit can write God and His 
Christ more fully and more plainly into literature, 
into precept, than He can write them into the 
consciousness of men, is false, and should be dis- 
used and abandoned at once. 

Now, all this is just the same thing as saying, 
that Christianity is larger, clearer, more constant, 
more powerful in the consciousness of human 
souls, than it can be in the embodiments of liter- 
ature, of precept; that any embodiment of Chris- 
tianity in history, in literature, in precept, is a 
process of obscuration, in comparison with its 
presence as a Fact in the souls of men. God 
does not come into the souls of men out of the 
Bible. The Bible comes powerfully, radiantly in- 
to the consciousness of men out of God. And it 
comes thus into consciousness by processes as truly 
cosmic and natural as are those, which paint God's 
ideal of beauty upon the petals of a rose. Religion 
is not an enactment, a statute, to be officially pro- 



22 



claimed and administered. It is an original, a 
necessary Pact, arising out of the relations of 
Being. The moment there was God and one other 
intelligence, that moment was there religion; for 
there was relation; and religion is a necessity of 
relations betwixt intelligences. 

Our religion, then did not come out of the Bible. 
The Bible came out of our religion. Miracle did 
not come out of the Bible. The Bible came out 
of miracle; and miracle is nothing else but a 
free and active God in the universe, with will and 
L>ower to do anything therein, that He wants to do. 

My dear brethren, these are great truths, where- 
unto I have now called your attention. I hope 
they may have been made plain to you. But, 
whether they may have been made plain to you 
or not, it is cause of great gladness to me, that 
this great century will give to abler and better 
preachers than we have ever been, opportunity 
to make them clear, even as God's own sunlight 
Is clear.